Music History

So that story of the Smiths fan who held a station here hostage in the '80s? It's true...well, sort of

Update, 2/25/13: The Smiths '80s radio station takeover: Here's what really happened according to the original offense report filed by the Lakewood Police Department, plus letters written by the suspect to his parents prior to the incident.

By Dave Herrera and Josiah Hesse

Well, so, we finally got to the bottom of this whole alleged Smiths radio ambush we told you about earlier this week that supposedly took place over two decades ago. We set out on a mission to once and for all debunk this long held myth involving a deranged gunman who apparently forced a local radio station to play four hours of continuous music by the Smiths. Turns out, the story is actually true -- well, sort of. It happened, alright, just not the way everybody thinks it did. And from everybody we've spoken with, nobody quite seems to agree on what exactly happened that day or how it went down.

See also: - The Smiths '80s radio station takeover: What happened according to the police report - SmithsBusters: Did a Smiths fan really hold a Denver radio station hostage in 1987? - Morrissey's quiet desparation and romantic worldview continues to connect and inspire fans

To Air is research is divine:

As you might recall, the incident first came to our attention through Mark Simpson's biography, Saint Morrissey: A Portrait of This Charming Man by an Alarming Fan. In his book, Simpson -- presumably based on a 1994 Details interview with Morrissey by William Shaw -- details an incident in which a fan supposedly stages a hostile takeover of a radio station and demands the station air songs by the Smiths. The story, which is long rumored to have inspired the plot line for Airheads, the 1994 movie starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler, in which they embark on a similar scheme, reportedly forms the basis for a forthcoming film titled Shoplifters of the World.

Problem is, we couldn't find anybody, locally or otherwise, to either confirm or deny the validity of the story, which, frankly, to us, seemed a bit too fantastical to be true -- mostly because we lived here at the time (well, one of us anyway), and we have absolutely zero recollection of something like this happening. I mean, surely we would've heard something about this, right? You'd think. Considering how dramatically the news media coverage has changed since then, though, it's easy to see how something like this would have escaped our notice now, what with the steady stream of information disseminated via social media, coupled the non-stop churn of the 24/7 news cycle. If something like this were to happen today, it would make headlines, but only for a short period of time before ultimately being pushed out of prominence by another barrage of stories.

But back then, this had to be major news, right? You'd think. Not so much, it seems. The whole thing had us mystified. So we decided to summon our vast investigative powers. I mean, who doesn't love a little myth busting -- or Smiths busting, in this case. So in our first attempts to begin debunking the myth, we reached out to both Simpson and a source working on the film, and while, separately, they each expressed that they firmly believe the tale to be true, neither could cite a credible source. In due diligence, we also spoke with Gil Asakawa, Westword's music editor at the time, and he didn't recall anything like this ever happening (although we were later able to dig up his write-up in our archives -- more on that in a minute).

A few days later, thanks to a tip from our pal and fellow Morrissey aficionado, Tyler Jacobson of Lipgloss and Mile High Soul Club fame -- who swore he remembered seeing a news clipping that had been tucked into a "Everyday is Like Sunday" cassette single a friend had loaned him in the late '80s -- we finally tracked down the original write-up in the Denver Post, confirming that the is incident indeed took place. The Post's account, however, differs from how it was later referenced, first by Details in 1994 and later in Mark's Simpson's 2005 biography.

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